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Past mayor John Patton remembered

By Staff | Nov 21, 2010

John Patton

A former mayor of the City of Blue Earth passed away last Friday.

John M. Patton, 82, served as Blue Earth mayor two separate times.

He was sworn in as mayor in April of 1969, the first time, just three years after having moved to town.

Then, he went on to state level politics, being elected to the Minnesota State Senate in 1972, and served as a state senator from 1973 to 1976.

He returned to serve as Blue Earth mayor in 1978, and was then elected mayor four more times, serving until 1983.

During his years as mayor, Patton was elected vice president of the Minnesota Coalition of Outstate Cities in 1980, then served as its president in 1981.

He was also appointed by Governor Al Quie to serve on the Local Government Policy Task Force in 1982.

Loren Lein served with Patton on theCity Council, and also was elected mayor after Patton’s last term.

“John was a very good mayor, and a good man,” Lein says. “If anyone had a comment or a complaint, John would let them talk, or vent, for as long as they wished – he never cut them off. Then he would discuss the issue and negotiate a solution. The person would leave feeling satisfied.”

John Rudd was the city clerk during some of Patton’s years as mayor. He recalls a lot of progress accomplished during that time.

The Blue Earth Community Library Project involved purchase of a downtown site, planning the new library with a seven member citizen group and getting approval of the voters.

“The library project had very strong, well-organized opposition,” Rudd says. “But it received voter approval on Feb. 14, 1984, by a 57 percent margin of yes votes.”

Another big project with Mayor Patton was the seven unit townhouse built on the site of a former ice cream factory.

The city used $70,000 in tax increment financing to purchase the site and demolish the factory, Rudd says.

There were many other projects under Patton’s guidance, Rudd says.

There was a $2 million upgrade of the Wastewater Plant, with help of a federal grant. There was also $2.3 million Community Development Block Grant for storm sewer, housing rehab and other projects.

It was also the time of many park improvements, including Beyer Field winter park project, which developed a former football field in a 100-year flood plain into a sledding hill, hockey rink, little league diamond and picnic area.

Current Blue Earth mayor Rob Hammond also remembers Patton’s work as a mayor.

“John was a state senator when I first came to town, then served as mayor,” Hammond recalls. “He did a very good job as mayor. It was during his term that the library was moved to its current location. That was controversial, but John made it happen.”

Mayor Hammond also recalls seeing Patton as the lead in the musical “Fiddler on the Roof.”

“It was perfect casting,” Hammond says. “John was terrific in the part.”

Hammond says he would see Patton around town in the past few years, and they would occasionally discuss some city issues.

“John told me he wouldn’t ever criticize me, because he said he knew what a tough job being mayor is. But, he did offer some advice from time to time and I appreciated it.”

Patton moved to Blue Earth in 1963, purchasing the Cook Funeral Home in downtown Blue Earth.

He and Al Forsman were co-owners of Forsman-Patton Funeral Home starting in 1965. Forsman retired in 1982, and Patton became sole owner.

A complete obituary notice appears elsewhere in this week’s issue of the Faribault County Register.